Senior Living: Prepare Your House for Retirement

Many of us who have reached the 50-year mark tend to start thinking somewhat more seriously about our retirement years. These thoughts invariably focus on how much we are putting into a 401K or a Roth plan, whether the mortgage is going to be paid off, and if we have some little hobby that can be turned into a part-time business to supplement our income.

There are other retirement considerations that should be made, however, particularly while we are still in our productive years, in order to make sure that our golden years are well-planned. Unless there are plans to move to another location, or a different house, making a few renovations to make our current homes more “senior-living-friendly” should be completed while it is more easily afforded. I’m not talking about turning your modern ranch-style into a nursing home, but there are a few remodeling tricks that would hardly be noticeable, and would really be convenient when those old football injuries finally start to become more than an occasional ache or pain during your retirement years.

1. Install a step-in shower. Making a bathroom more convenient for those retirement years can be one of the most expensive changes. If you have a tub on the main floor of your home that can be replaced with a step-in shower stall, your knees will thank you later on down the road. Opening a door and walking into a shower with a slip-proof floor is a lot safer than climbing over the tub wall, especially if there aren’t any nearby hand rails to steady yourself as you lift one leg at a time.

2. Prepare the toilet area. Eventually, a taller toilet might be necessary for your home, and that can be installed on short notice whenever the time is right. In the meantime, though, you may want to make sure there is a stable wall next to the toilet where a support handle can be attached. Having a grab bar on the wall can make getting up much easier when those legs are weaker, but these should never be installed into a wall that has not been reinforced enough to support your body weight. Another easy trick is to install a telephone jack on a wall adjacent to the toilet. The convenience of answering a call or making a call can be very important in those senior years.

3. Create additional closet areas. While your home may seem to have plenty of storage space, some of it may be in areas that would not be easily accessible in your retirement years. Items that are currently kept in the attic, the basement, or in those upstairs closets may need to be moved to storage areas created on the main living floor.

4. Addition of a surveillance system. Many seniors tend to be concerned about home security during their retirement years, and yet the electronic devices that are available to safeguard property can be somewhat expensive for those living on retirement dollars. While you are still working, consider investing in a security system for your home, including door and window alarms, and cameras that watch the doors and the yard. Along that same line of thought, the installation of automatic (motion-sensitive) lights for the driveway and porch areas will be an appreciated convenience during your senior years.

5. Purchase of fitness equipment. Most of us want to feel strong during our retirement years, and wellness experts will advise us to keep moving and stay active for as long as possible. While walking is an efficient way of keeping fit, there are various pieces of exercise equipment that are beneficial to those seeking safe, low-impact aerobic movement to keep loose. Having a treadmill or a recumbent bike in a spare bed room will make exercise easier during the winter months when we are not outside so often. Shelling out a few hundred dollars for your home gym is probably easier to do now while you are still drawing a paycheck, rather than trying to purchase equipment with your retirement dollars.

6. Consider safe floor coverings. That hardwood floor that you have swept and buffed all these years may still shine like a silver dollar, but during retirement days, it may be the cause of a serious fall. Installation of carpets or large area rugs will make things safer, but may be cost-prohibitive for those living on fixed incomes. Think about putting down that new flooring sooner, rather than later, to eliminate those retirement expenses.

If you visit with some of the older folks in your life, they will tell you how important it is to have sturdy handrails, walking paths that are level and free from clutter, and everyday necessities that are within easy reach. A little planning and a little remodeling during your working years could make your retirement days a lot more carefree.

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